Conservatives continue to wage war over the future of the Republican Party, with Media Research Center president Brent Bozell and several other activists penning a letter discouraging donors from giving money to Karl Rove's new political group.
Rove has been the focus of conservative anger for weeks following the announcement of Conservative Victory Project, a new group he is launching with the help of the allies behind his Crossroads political groups. According to the New York Times, the group will seek to "recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts."
The letter, flagged by TIME reporter Zeke Miller, is signed by Bozell, Tea Party Express chairman Amy Kremer, Citizens United president David Bossie, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, and a handful of other conservative activists who claim to represent "millions of grassroots conservatives."
Addressed to "Top Crossroads Donors," the letter rips Rove's Crossroads political groups for supporting moderate candidates and having "squandered hundreds of millions of dollars in what were arguably the most inept campaign advertising efforts ever."
Conservative organization FreedomWorks is fundraising off of Fox News contributor Karl Rove's efforts to, in the group's words, "silence grassroots activists and make sure that only big-government RINO's call the shots in Washington."
Rove, along with allies from his Crossroads political groups, recently launched the Conservative Victory Project. According to The New YorkTimes, the group will work to "recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts." The project has sparked a civil war among conservative commentators, with some of Rove's own Fox News colleagues calling the group "absolutely repulsive" and "an incumbency protection racket."
FreedomWorks, which attacked Rove when the project was announced, has launched NotKarlsParty.com. In a video touting the effort, FreedomWorks spokeswoman and Fox News contributor Deneen Borelli says that "Karl Rove and his unprincipled establishment candidates" are trying to "take over the GOP." The message asks followers to visit NotKarlsParty.com to "file a petition to give Karl Rove a piece of your mind."
From the February 28 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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In a paid speaking engagement before the Lane Country (Oregon) Republican Party, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin attacked fellow Fox News employee Karl Rove for running an "incumbency protection racket" and decried the treatment of conservative candidates "thrown under the bus by feckless Republicans."
In an excerpt of her speech on February 22 posted to YouTube, Malkin referred to Rove's "Conservative Victory Project," which is reportedly an attempt to promote more electable Republican candidates while attacking primary candidates who are unlikely to win races, as "an incumbency protection racket."
She accused Rove of "badmouthing conservatives who've had a problem with big government Republican policies of which he is the primary architect" and "badmouthing good candidates who stepped up to the plate when no one else would, who were savaged by the media and then thrown under the bus by feckless Republicans." She declared, "that's not the kind of Republican Party I want to belong to."
Malkin blamed "big government Republicans" for helping to create the "seeds that were planted" that led to the Tea Party movement because "conservatives were sick of seeing their money squandered on people who did not believe in their principles."
Other conservatives have recently panned Rove's new organization, describing them as "snakes in the GOP grass" and "the Bush insider team that helped lead to the rise of Barack Obama." Fox hosts, contributors and frequent guests like Mark Levin, Erick Erickson, Liz Cheney and Mike Huckabee have also attacked Rove for this initiative.
Attendees at the dinner paid $95 per person to hear Malkin speak (lowered from the previous price of $125). According to a report in the Register-Guard, the Lane County Republican Party paid a deposit of $7,500 towards Malkin's speaking fee, and planned a "private reception" with Malkin for "45 to 50" people paying $500 each. On her personal website, Malkin notes that "my speaking fee is high."
Perpetually fuming about President Obama, Sean Hannity widened his rant Wednesday night on Fox News and condemned the "lapdog, kiss ass media" that allegedly lets Obama have his way. Echoing the same attack, Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week that "Mr. Obama is a once-in-a-generation demagogue with a compliant press corps," while the anti-Obama Daily Caller pushed the headline, "Lapdog Media Seeking Lap To Lie In."
Complaining about the "liberal media," has been a running, four-decade story for conservative activists. But what we're hearing more of lately is the specific allegation that the press has purposefully laid down for the Democratic president, and that it's all part of a master media plan to help Democrats foil Republicans.
The rolling accusation caught my attention since I wrote a book called Lapdogs, which documented the Beltway media's chronic timidity during the previous Republican administration, and particularly with regards to the Iraq War. I found it curious that Hannity and friends are now trying to turn the rhetorical tables with a Democrat in the White House, and I was interested in what proof they had to lodge that accusation against today's press.
It turns out the evidence is quite thin. For instance, one never-ending partisan cry has been the press has "ignored" the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last year; that they're protecting Obama. Yet the New York Times and Washington Post have published nearly 800 articles and columns mentioning Benghazi since last September, according to Nexis.
What the lapdog allegation really seems to revolve around is the fact that conservatives are angry that Obama remains popular with the public. Rather than acknowledge that reality, partisans increasingly blame the press and insist if only reporters and pundits would tell 'the truth' about Obama, then voters would truly understand how he's out to destroy liberty and freedom and capitalism.
Sorry, but that's not what constitutes a lapdog press corps. And to confuse chronic partisan whining with authentic media criticism is a mistake. The Hannity-led claim also isn't accurate. Studies have shown that during long stretches of his first term, Obama was hammered with "unrelentingly negative" press coverage.
By contrast, the lapdog era of the Bush years represented nothing short of an institutional collapse of the American newsroom. And it was one that, given the media's integral role in helping to sell the Iraq War, did grave damage to our democracy.
From the February 17 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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Washington Post editor Bob Woodward pushed back on Fox News political analyst Karl Rove's attempt to blame the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester on President Obama.
Woodward wrote in his 2012 book that the White House first proposed the sequester during negotiations that resulted from the Republican congressional leadership's decision to refuse to raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts. Republicans and their allies in the conservative media have recently used Woodward's book in an attempt to blame Obama for the forthcoming cuts and the damage they will do to the economy if implemented.
But when Karl Rove tried to do so during a panel discussion on the February 17 Fox News Sunday, Woodward pushed back:
ROVE: Let's be honest about this. This was a bad idea foisted on us by the President of the United States, who has had 18 months to lead the country in a way that we could make smart cuts, not stupid cuts.
JUAN WILLIAMS (Fox News contributor): How can you call this the President's sequester when most of the Republicans --
ROVE: Because I read Bob Woodward's book!
WOODWARD: The White House -- and they really don't want to talk about the origins of the sequester now. But the Republicans definitely have a role in this.
Conservative media voices have insisted that an increase of the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $9 would harm the economy. However, a wealth of economic evidence disputes the claims that minimum wage hikes are job killers, that the minimum wage is already high, and that it only applies to jobs held by relatively young workers.
Fox News political contributor Karl Rove attacked President Obama's proposal to expand pre-kindergarten education as too costly, despite the fact that investment in pre-k education returns more money than it costs. Rover further disregarded the reality that federal spending, including the 2009 stimulus, can often result in net savings.
On the February 13 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, host Jon Scott asked Rove about the pre-k education proposal the president outlined in his State of the Union address. Rove acknowledged that he has no evidence detailing the cost of the president's proposal, but claimed that similar plans would cost $25 billion. When Scott pointed out the return on investment, Rove dismissed it:
SCOTT: But you heard especially with regard to that universal pre daycare kind of thing, universal pre-kindergarten kind of thing the president said that for every dollar you spend on that kind of a program, you get something like $14 back.
ROVE: Well that's how we justify everything. The president justified the stimulus by saying if we spent money on the stimulus, 800 and some odd billion dollars that it would grow the economy. Look, we have tried this idea that we can spend our way to prosperity for four years.
Contrary to Rove's assertion, economists agree that the stimulus has a successful record of creating jobs and preventing a deeper economic recession. Rove also failed to take into account the economic benefits of pre-k programs specifically. For instance, according to Scholastic, "Economists say that the return for every dollar invested in preschool can be anywhere from $2 to $17 when you total the drop in special education, grade repetition, and crime, and add the value of a more productive workforce." A 2005 study by the University of Texas' Children's Learning Institute estimates the return on investment at somewhere between $7 and $8 for every dollar spent, and National Head Start Association study pegs the benefits at $9 returned for every $1 invested in Head Start alone.
From the Children's Learning Institute:
Right-wing pundits frequently use former President Ronald Reagan's name to apply a stamp of approval on anything or anyone they deem symbolic of the ideal conservative -- even when Reagan's actual record on issues ranging from taxes to the deficit deviated far from the ideological standards of today's conservative movement.
Republican darling du jour Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) is the latest to receive the Reagan badge. Ahead of his delivery of the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address, Karl Rove said Monday that "in Rubio, the Republicans have got probably one of their best communicators since Ronald Reagan." On MSNBC's Morning Joe, The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis called Rubio "Reaganesque." And in November 2012, pundit Cal Thomas published a column on Townhall.com titled, "Marco Rubio: A Hispanic Reagan?"
Rubio is just the latest in a long line of Republican politicians to receive the ubiquitous accolade:
Mitt Romney: Fox News figures repeatedly linked former presidential candidate Romney to the Gipper during both opinion and news shows in the months leading up to the 2012 election. Bill O'Reilly said that Romney "is going to mirror the ghost of Ronald Reagan," while political correspondent Carl Cameron said Romney, on his bus tour, spent a lot of time "sort of echoing Ronald Reagan."
Rep. Paul Ryan (WI): Fox News figures from K.T. MacFarland to Megyn Kelly compared Ryan to Reagan as part of their cheerleading for Ryan after he was chosen as Romney's vice presidential candidate.
Gov. Chris Christie (NJ): Fox Nation highlighted a column by the director of the American Enterprise Institute with the headline, "Christie's Starting to Look Like Reagan."
Sarah Palin: A post on Breitbart's BigJournalism.com said that Palin "carries the torch of liberty and American exceptionalism in the palm of her lovely hand" before calling her the "surviving embodiment of the spirit of 1776 and the Reagan reformation."
Gov. Scott Walker (WI): On Sean Hannity's Fox show, conservative radio host Mike Gallagher called Walker "the Ronald Reagan of our time."
Gov. Bob McDonnell (VA): Karl Rove, on Hannity's show, called Virginia governor Bob McDonnell "a Reaganite conservative."
Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA): In February 2008, Rush Limbaugh called Jindal "the next Ronald Reagan."
Right-wing media figures have splashed the "Reagan" label about so freely that they're in danger of rendering the compliment meaningless.
Last night on The O'Reilly Factor, previewing Sen. Marco Rubio's response to President Obama's State of the Union speech, Fox News political analyst Karl Rove labeled Rubio "the American experience" and declared him "probably one of the best communicators since Ronald Reagan."
Over-the-top praise of Rubio on the network is nothing new. Rubio's increasingly prominent role in the national political conversation is thanks, in part, to the help of Fox News, which has served as his primary cheerleader since his 2010 Senate campaign.
In recent weeks, Rove in particular has showered praise on Rubio and his role in the debate over immigration reform. His comparison of Rubio to Reagan on The O'Reilly Factor wasn't even the first time he had done so on Fox's airwaves this month; he made similar comments during a February 4 appearance on Special Report.
Rove isn't alone in his adoration of the Florida senator. Fox personalities have fawned over Rubio on-air for years, boosted his 2010 Florida Senate run (including helping him fundraise on-air), hosted him for dozens of primetime appearances on the network, and repeatedly touted him as an ideal vice presidential pick for former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
In this report:
From the February 11 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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The GOP civil war continues to intensify, with numerous prominent conservative media figures lashing out at Karl Rove in recent days over vehement disagreements about the direction of the party. This is far from the first incident pitting Rove against fellow right-wing media figures. In recent years, conservative media personalities -- many of whom work with Rove at Fox News -- have called Rove a "propagandist," "not a conservative," and an "effete sore loser" who heads an "absolutely repulsive" political group.
The New York Times reported on February 2 that Rove, along with allies behind his Crossroads political groups, has decided to launch the Conservative Victory Project. According to the Times, the group will work to "recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts."
Following the news, Rove quickly became the target of conservative ire, with several media figures accusing him of betraying conservative principles and the Tea Party. The outcry was loud enough that Rove ran to Sean Hannity's Fox News program to do damage control, touting American Crossroads' huge investment in Sen. Marco Rubio (and a few other Tea Party favorites) as proof of his conservatism.
Conservative anger at Rove has been simmering for years, intensifying in the past few months after Rove's Crossroads political groups squandered several hundred million dollars during the 2012 elections.
The war of words on the right continues to escalate, with radio host Mark Levin becoming the latest Fox News figure to attack Fox political analyst Karl Rove. In a February 8 post on his Facebook page, Levin accused Rove of lying about conservative Rep. Steve King (R-IA). Earlier in the week on his radio show, Levin claimed Rove is "despised by the grassroots" and said Rove's name and new political group "are poison in conservative and Republican circles in many respects."
Rove has recently been at the center of a conservative firestorm over the announcement of his new group, Conservative Victory Project, which the New York Times explains will work "to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts."
Levin -- a frequent Fox News guest who has agreed to make regular appearances on Sean Hannity's Fox show -- wrote on his Facebook page that Rove "flat out lied" during an appearance on Sean Hannity's radio show. According to Levin, Rove told Hannity that Rep. Steve King (R-IA) had "endorse[d]" controversial comments about rape made by defeated Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin. Levin added, "This is the kind of sleaziness conservatives are fed up with. And Rove went on national radio and smeared King with this lie."
King, who is reportedly considering running for a Senate seat in Iowa, has been identified as the type of conservative Rove's organization would likely target. Steven Law, president of American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by Rove that created the Conservative Victory Project, has expressed concern about King's history of extreme comments, which Law labeled his "Todd Akin problem."
Levin has also targeted Rove on his radio show. On February 7, Levin declared that Rove is "despised by the grassroots," mocked his "stupid little third-grade whiteboard," then brought "my buddy" King on the show and said: "Steve King and all you conservatives out there who are thinking about running in these primaries and so forth -- your best commercial is going to be that your opponent is funded by Karl Rove. I'm serious, Steve King -- I think Karl Rove's name, I think his organization are poison in conservative and Republican circles in many respects." Levin added, "Bring it on, Karl baby. Bring it on, doughboy. Bring on your little whiteboard. We're ready." During the same show, Levin also labeled Rove a "propagandist."
Fox News contributor Karl Rove recently formed a group that will, in the words of The New York Times, work "to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts." That doesn't sit well with Rove's Fox News colleague Mike Huckabee, who called Rove's Conservative Victory Project "absolutely repulsive" and suggested that people like Rove are spending millions "to destroy a Republican that you don't think is up to your country club level" during a February 8 interview.
Listen to Huckabee's comments from Cumulus Radio Networks' Geraldo:
RIVERA: Karl Rove says the Republican Party has to go through a metamorphosis, has to change. You know Bill Kristol says wait a second, the Tea Party's not so bad. Where do you stand?
HUCKABEE: I think Karl needs to go through a metamorphosis. You know this idea that somehow a handful of Republicans are going to attack Republicans that the handful doesn't like? I find that repulsive. I find it absolutely repulsive. This is not how you build a strong Republican Party, is by going after the people in your party who are different than you are. This is fratricide. And if the Republican Party wants to render itself utterly, utterly irrelevant, the best way to do it is to become several little parties within the party, which is apparently what some folks seem to think we ought to do. When you marginalize the Tea Party, marginalize the pro-life and pro-family part of the party, you lose every election coming up in the future. You lose every election. There may be a few local elections that you might win in some places outside the base of the party, but you're not going to win a national election again.
HUCKABEE: If you're going to spend millions of dollars, spend it to build up your Republican, the one you like, not millions to destroy a Republican that you don't think is up to your country club level. I find that just horrendous. [Cumulus Radio Networks, Geraldo, 2/8/13]
Huckabee joins numerous other conservative pundits, including Fox News contributors, who have criticized Rove's project for favoring the Republican establishment over conservative principles.